Does a simple sore throat lead to psychological symptoms such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or Tourette syndrome?
In 1998, physicians began reporting odd encephalitis (brain inflammation)-like symptoms following an infection with Group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus (GABHS), a bacterial infection.
Currently, PANDAS is not an ICD-9 recognized disease, and there is no recommended treatment. The suggested diagnostic criteria for PANDAS is abrupt onset (or dramatic exacerbations) of OCD or tic disorder, beginning between 3yo and the start of puberty, that occurs following an infection with GABHS. The neurologic examination would reveal hyperactivity, choreiform (snake-like) movements and/or tics.
Several studies have explored this phenomenon with conflicting results. Some authors found no correlation, while others found only elevated ASO (antibody) titers or the worsening of preexisting tic or OCD disorders. While some retrospective studies verified an association between infection and these neurological changes, a direct relationship has not been established.
Many clinicians think that PANDAS is simply a misdiagnosis of Sydenham’s chorea, a criteria for acute rheumatic fever (also caused by streptococcal infection) that is characterized by spastic and purposeless movements of the face or arms. Similarly to rheumatic fever, researchers believe that PANDAS may be due to the accidental production of antibodies that attack an area of the brain known as the basal ganglia.
Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection (PANDAS). Dynamed Database. Updated February 19, 2013, Accessed May 24, 2014.